Family, Motherhood, Testimony

“Exploratory Surgery” and the Goodness of God

Just like I’ve seen ear infections ‘come back’ after the antibiotics were done could mean the same thing might be possible with a UTI, right? Early in May Rosie got sick suddenly with a fever and pain she described to me was when going to the bathroom. A round of medicine seemed to clear up her infection. Then we had our awesome and full visit with Pastor Igaud mid-May but then I got really sick and he had to leave early! It took about a week for my body to really feel recovered from whatever horrible virus that was. Thankfully no one else in the family got it! How weird is that. After my illness it was time to celebrate graduation and the ending of school year church programming as well. Lots of parties and get togethers made the next week move fast! In early June I was finally able to go visit a friend of mine who had her own baby daughter in the hospital for quite some time and then we took a few days the following week to go visit friends in Sioux Falls. We were home for a couple of days, thinking the next week would be NORMAL and I especially wanted NORMAL since we were all anticipating Nick’s 12 day long adventure to England with the youth group on June 23. It also being our anniversary on the 19th we decided at the last minute to book a cute place to stay for a night to celebrate. Whew!

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On Saturday, June 17th we went as a family to enjoy lunch at the new coffee shop in town. We were all very excited about this and it was a very fun family outing. Nick went to work afterwards to finish preparing his sermon for the following day and I went home with the kids to finish cleaning and packing for our overnight. I was actually going through my closet, trying a few things on, deciding what I wanted to wear on our date night when I heard Rosie start to cry. It was a pain cry for sure. A cry like Theo smacked her on the head or like she fell down the stairs. It was very out of the blue. Theo and Rosie had been quietly resting on the couch watching a show together for some time and TJ had been napping for a while too. After I ran to her side and tried to understand what was going on she said between sobs her tummy hurt. Her forehead felt a bit warm. I brought her up to the bathroom and had her try going which did not go well; she was very upset and crying. I brought her back downstairs; she said she didn’t want to walk. I checked her temperature and it was 101. When she had her UTI in May her temperature spiked to 103 out of the blue and she randomly cried out in pain as well. I thought for sure it was another UTI. I gave her tylenol right away so the fever wouldn’t climb. Although Nick said he would come home if he needed to I didn’t want to interrupt him when I knew he had a sermon to finish so I scrambled to find someone to watch the boys so I could get Rosie checked out. The tylenol seemed to help her while I got the boys situated at a friends house. FastCares were closed, Urgent Cares were closed, the only thing I could do was take her to the ER. I was okay with that though because I wanted to get some expert advice on reoccuring UTI’s in children. I had thought in the back of my head that it could be something else… it could be appendix, who knows? But my bet was on a UTI because she was acting and behaving exactly how she did before.

When we got to the hospital that evening we did a urine test and by my surprise it came back clean. The doctor examined her, had her jump up and down, had her try walking – all of which she obliged like a champ. “Does it hurt when you do that?” the doctor asked. She nodded with a bit of a frown. “It could even be viral too” he said to me, seemingly perplexed. “But because of her pain and tension in the abdomen I don’t want you going home without a clear diagnosis.” So he ordered a blood test and an ultrasound.

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I was really stumped now and starting to get a bit nervous about my daughter’s condition. I knew we’d be in for a much longer night. After the blood test showed her white blood cell count was high and the ultrasound showed free flowing fluid inside her abdomen the doctor recommended we go to Saint Mary’s where they have the pediatric specialists to deal with this sort of case. We were at OMC at first because that’s where she was already in the system for. The doctor at OMC seemed very concerned about the fluid in her. So, during a downpour around 8:00pm we went to Saint Mary’s. By about 8:30 we were checked in and watching Moana in our room while we waited for the new doctor. They did another urine test which also came back normal and then ordered an ultrasound.

This ultrasound took a long time. They had a hard time seeing her entire appendix. It was just really deep into her body and they couldn’t get a probe on top of it all the way. They said it seemed normal but not being able to see all of it was troublesome. All the fluid they could see was what was concerning. Fluid shouldn’t be there and it came from somewhere. Between 10:30 and 11:30, after looking over the ultrasound results, they decided to admit Rosie overnight for observation. Nick came to the hospital to bring me some things for the overnight stay and then he went back home to sleep. They also had to put in an IV to keep her hydrated which would also help her feel a bit better too. By the time all of this was done and we were successfully transferred upstairs to an overnight room it was close to 1 in the morning. I could barely sleep. I was worried about her. I was uncomfortable. I was smelly and sweaty, scared and super tense.

The doctor came in very early in the morning, maybe 6:30am and said he was going to get some opinions after looking at the ultrasounds more. I slept for about 4 hours.

At about 9, my friend, Rebecca, brought me a large coffee from caribou (because I NEEDED caffeine and umm hospital coffee was…nauseating, like seriously) before her family headed to church. She encouraged me and prayed with me and mentioned that this whole experience could be spiritual warfare, an attack from the enemy. I hadn’t thought about it that way yet. While we visited they came and told me they were ordering a CT scan.

A summer women’s Bible study began just the day before in the book of Philippians. Rebecca said I should read through the book while we waited. Although I didn’t have my bible with me I do have a Bible app on my phone. After she left that’s exactly what I did. I read and while I read God comforted my soul and strengthened my spirit when I felt empty, weak, anxious, scared and angry.

Philippians 1:12 I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel. V.20-21 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. V.29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake

Philippians 2:3-4 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. V.14-16 Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

Philippians 4:4-9 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anythingbut in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. V.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.

They then ordered a CT scan and sent us down at 9:30. The CT scan was done and we were back in the room at 10:17am. Don’t forget, Nick was in church at this point. Service began at 10:00. At 10:46am the pediatric surgeon came in and said the CT scan was also inconclusive and the only other way to find out what was going on in her body was to do exploratory surgery.

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I then posted this to our church facebook group page, knowing I couldn’t really get ahold of Nick, but I wanted someone to know what was going on so that he could leave church right away when it was over and come meet us at the hospital before surgery:

Please pray and have Nick come to Saint Mary’s asap when church is over.
After a ct scan they still can’t determine what’s causing the fluid build up in her abdomen, her pain, and high white blood cell count. Doctor wants to do surgery the sooner the better to explore and possibly take anything out that they find to be troublesome. We’re looking at possible surgery time at noon.
Thank you for your prayers. I’ve been reading Philippians and asking for God’s peace and strength and Rosie is watching Frozen. 

A few minutes after posting that one of our church elders, called me and asked if he should interrupt Nick’s preaching! I said no, it seemed like the doctors were willing to wait for Nick to arrive to bring us down to surgery but they did seem antsy about it. I mean, when surgery is the best next step, waiting is only going to add more risk and I could feel that. I just wanted to make sure Nick didn’t stay and chat with people like he normally would, but that he really did need to get here as quick as possible. I trusted that it was the right thing for Nick to finish preaching his sermon and that as long as the doctors were patient that it would be okay to wait another hour or so. I actually thought about Pastor Igaud and his story of following God’s call to go preach while his own daughter faced some scary health issues. God was in control and I could trust in Him and His plan. I do not find it coincidental in the slightest that I had recently wrote about Pastor Igaud and was thinking about his faith example, having recently thought to myself many times ‘I want faith like that’.

I could see the doctors pass by a few times peaking to see if Nick had arrived. Finally, around 12:30 Nick showed up, we hugged, he prayed over Rosie, and then the surgical team entered the room and said “ok let’s go”.

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As most of you probably already know, the “exploratory surgery” turned into an appendectomy. Surgery was much quicker than anyone expected. The news of surgery being done and that all they had to do was take out the appendix was like music to my ears! Appendicitis as the diagnosis and a successful surgery was the best case scenario of all the potential health issues it could have been (and there were a lot)!

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The following couple of days in the hospital were hard. It was exhausting, and the experience thus far had been incredibly draining. It was still really sad and hard seeing Rosie so sad, helpless, and not able to be her normal self. But after the blessing of coming home on that Tuesday afternoon and a full night of sleep I had some time to process everything that happened.

God met me in my need. The writings of Paul in Philippians nurtured my soul in what was a very tumultuous moment for me. Anxiety is a big weakness of mine, paranoia, worry, fear. I feel things deeply. I always fear the worst. Having been in the hospital with Rosie alone for most of the time too was challenging for me as I had to be the strong one for her. I didn’t even have my husband with me much to be the strong one. I feared her experience would be worse if she saw her mommy falling apart. I had to be strong. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t be strong by myself because I am weak. I needed God.

The awareness of the enemy’s hand, and God’s sovereign hand, shifted my mental focus. (Thank you Rebecca! …Thank you God!) I was at war with myself. I was in a spiritual battle for my mind and my heart. I could let my fear and worry control me which would lead me into sin or I could turn my eyes upon Jesus and allow His word to change my heart. God’s peace was within me. And I don’t believe it would have been in the same way had I not opened up the word and read Philippians. The timing, the people coming, and everything worked out perfectly. This was not simply an emergency surgery we had to endure, this was not coincidental, this was a spiritual test, a spiritual exercise. I was exhausted and not functioning my best, and in that moment I needed a friend to remind me that THIS was the time to get in the word, the time to pray. How amazing is it that my God and Savior was looking out for my heart in the midst of the chaos and uncertainty of Rosie’s health condition to allow the right amount of time and people to lead me to His word. How amazing is it that God sustained Rosie’s body before surgery to also allow Nick to finish his preaching at our church service.

I was being tested. I had to actively take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). I was encouraged by also thinking of the story of Job. My suffering was NOTHING compared to Job’s suffering. And why did God allow the evil one to test him? Because God knew Job would be faithful and obedient and would always give God the praise and glory, because God deserves all the praise and glory! It doesn’t mean Job wasn’t ever sad, because he was, and it doesn’t mean Job didn’t wrestle with God, because he did.

I was scared I might lose my daughter. I was scared she would have something really serious going on in her body. I was sad I couldn’t go on our anniversary date. I was devastated that we were losing on precious family time before Nick’s trip. And I had to keep telling myself, preaching to myself, that God is still good no matter what. God is good all the time! I had plenty of things my sinful nature wanted to complain about! I had to resist the temptation and lean into Jesus and rest in His peace. Even if my worst fears are realized, God is still good. Because, what is this life compared to an eternity with him? That’s still a hard thought to wrestle with. I don’t want to lose my daughter, I don’t want to endure suffering, I don’t want to face hardship and testing. It sucks! But even though it’s hard and things are sad and life can really suck… isn’t that the point? We are enduring this painful life, running the race that has been set before us, so that we can be with Jesus. Where do we find our joy?

Hebrews 12:1-2 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

My continual test of faith not is to consider what I might say if things had turned out differently. If it wasn’t a “happy ending” as the nurses had described our case to be. But my hope and my faith is in the Lord and in knowing that He will supply everything I need in the moment that I need it just as he did during this entire experience.

My friends, this was all planned by God! If Rosie had been diagnosed with appendicitis early in the evening on Saturday night when she first got sick I might not have wrestled so intimately with trying to address my anxiety, fear, frustration, and disappointment biblically. This was harder, but it was better for my soul. The easier quicker route would not have produced this kind of faith building experience. For that, I am thankful. I am thankful to the Lord for testing me, teaching me, instructing my heart, giving me opportunity to put to practice the things I believe and the things I say to others. I am thankful for the active spiritual warfare I felt in my heart and my mind, that he made me aware of the bigger picture and that helped me to trust in Him. I am thankful that He protected my mind and He provided for my deepest needs.

Late Monday night I was breaking down emotionally. I couldn’t hold back anymore tears (and there already had been quite a few). I was aching to be home together as a family and feeling sad that I knew Nick would be gone for 12 days very very soon. I didn’t want to complain about it but it was getting hard not to. Instead, I prayed, thanking God for all the ways He had provided for our needs, protected us, ministered to us. We had SO much to praise Him for. So many people prayed for us, went to clean our house, brought us food, brought me coffee, brought Rosie gifts and visits. We didn’t deserve any of the blessings we had received throughout our hospital stay. I praised God for all the good, recognizing His hand of provision over it all. He protected Rosie’s life and body! Then, I pleaded with God, “I don’t know what your will is, but, please let us go home tomorrow”. Even if we had to stay another night in the hospital, I would give up my own desires to follow His will. I needed to let go and stop being anxious about when we would get to go home. I prayed that, and cried myself to sleep. The next morning one of the pediatric surgeon’s came in and said they were going to try giving Rosie an oral antibiotic and if it went well we could be discharged later that day! Wow. Thank you, thank you Lord! In that moment He had mercy on me, on our family, and He answered my prayer!

Philippians 4:6-7 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 37 
Delight yourself in the Lord,
    and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord;

    trust in him, and he will act.

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We get to go home!!!

I share this story with you because it was so abundantly clear to me that God was using this experience to shape and strengthen my faith, how can I not share it? How can I be silent about how God willed and worked in us? I want God to get all the glory.
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